NEW YORK (Oct. 31)
U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali summoned five Jewish leaders to a meeting this week to deny a reported claim that he had a role in a recent rally of the controversial Nation of Islam.
Boutros-Ghali called the meeting Thursday to refute allegations published in an opinion piece Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, according to Harris Schoenberg, director of the Center for Public Policy of B’nai B’rith International and director of B’nai B’rith’s U.N. affairs.
Schoenberg was one of the five called to the session.
The meeting comes amid U.S. opposition to Boutros-Ghali’s candidacy for a second five-year term. The United States has pledged to veto any reappointment of the Egyptian by the U.N. Security Council, claiming that the international body needs new leadership.
Schoenberg said Boutros-Ghali suggested that he would welcome support from the Jewish community for his quest, but that those present made it clear that they "couldn’t take sides in a political contest."
On the other hand, said Schoenberg, they offered to "set the record straight" at any point that the secretary-general "is not an anti-Semite."
Informed sources not at the meeting speculated that the secretary-general convened it at least in part because the implication that he is anti-Semitic strikes at his core. Boutros-Ghali, a key architect of the Camp David accords, is a Coptic Christian married to a Jewish woman who converted to Christianity.
Schoenberg said the secretary-general vehemently rejected any insinuation that he is anti-Semitic and that he had anything to do with the arrangements for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s "Day of Atonement" rally Oct. 16 in front of the United Nations.
The article said Farrakhan decided on the rally location after Boutros-Ghali "had his loyal Egyptian, Palestinian and Iraqi minions in the U.N. Secretariat enlist the Libyan mission to the U.N." persuaded Farrakhan to do so.
It went on to imply that the Egyptian secretary-general’s influence also had a role in an invitation to Farrakhan by the U.N. Correspondents Association to hold a news conference in the United Nations.
Schoenberg said the meeting also touched on terrorism, Egyptian anti-Semitism, the need for Israel to secure a place in a regional grouping at the United Nations, from which it is now barred for political reasons, and genocide in Africa.
Also present, he said, were Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti- Defamation League; Phil Baum, executive director of the American Jewish Congress; Leon Levy, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents.
The Journal piece was written by Pedro Sanjuan, president of the Institute of East-West Dynamics and a former official in the U.N. Secretariat.